Ahead of the late-night-conceived meeting of MLAs on Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, according to sources, has conveyed to his close ‘friends’ Kamal Nath and Manish Tewari that he will prefer walking out of the grand old party if asked to resign as CM — a claim dismissed by the chief minister’s office.
The Congress announced the emergency meeting on Friday night citing “a representation from a large number of MLAs". Sources say the party is under increasing pressure from its Punjab legislators to replace Amarinder Singh but he is not ready to resign.
Sources also revealed that the majority wants a Hindu leader. Either Navjot Singh Sidhu or Sunil Jakhar could become the new leader of the legislature party, sources added. They further said that the High command hopes that Singh will respect the decision of the majority MLAs in the legislature party meeting.
Meanwhile, observers Harish Choudhary and Ajay Maken, who will leave from Delhi for the Punjab meeting, have convened another meeting with all the cabinet ministers. CM Amarinder Singh has also summoned all the legislators at 2pm.
At about 11:42 pm on Friday, Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat tweeted about the decision to hold an urgent CLP meeting. Ten minutes later at 11:52 pm, PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu directed all the MLAs to be present.
The ball was set into motion two days ago when about 40 MLAs wrote to the Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi seeking a CLP to take stock of the 18-point agenda which Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh had been tasked to fulfil prior to elections. Sources said that the letter put the high command in a quandary. Rawat, though on numerous occasions has reiterated that there was no move to remove Singh, but the letter by a big chunk of legislators was too important politically to be ignored.
Sources in the party revealed that after deliberations, the high command had decided to send two party observers to “gauge" the mood of the majority of the legislators in the state. “The idea was to get a sense of the numbers were actually too big and to what extent the anti-Capt legislators were willing to press for the removal of the Chief Minister," said a leader. Accordingly, the party had decided to send Harish Chaudhary and Ajay Maken to Chandigarh and try and meet the legislators.